Knightmare's AFL Draft Power Rankings: September

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Each month, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Christopher Doerre - aka Knightmare - unveils his power rankings to give readers an early insight into the top 20 prospects ahead of the 2017 draft.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful analysis.

However, these rankings are his personal opinions, and are not reflective of the thoughts of AFL clubs.

Aside from his monthly power rankings Doerre also produces a weekly draft wrap and he will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft in November.

1. Cameron Rayner (VIC)

Best position: General forward/inside midfielder
Height, weight: 187cm, 88kg
Recruited from: Western Jets
Projected draft range: top five
Similar to: Dustin Martin
August Ranking: 1
Rationale: Impactful through the midfield with his contested ball-winning and explosiveness. Just as good if not better up forward with his one-on-one and scoring capabilities.
Strengths:
Damaging both as a forward and midfielder
Aggression
Scoreboard impact
Strength
Powerful fend-off
Burst through tackles at speed
Stands up through tackles and delivers handballs to target
Clean at ground level
First possession winner at stoppages
Contested ball winner
Clearances
Draws free kicks
Explosive pace
Evasiveness in traffic
High leap
Tackles with force
Plays with desperation and provides second and third efforts
Powerful and damaging kick over distance often with good kick placement
Vision
Decision making
One-on-one marking
Marking threat on the lead
Aerial marking
Production
Big game and big moment performer
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Set shot goalkicking
Kicking mildly inconsistent

2. Paddy Dow (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfield
Height, weight: 184cm, 78kg
Recruited from: Bendigo Pioneers
Projected draft range: top five
Similar to: Patrick Dangerfield
August Ranking: 2
Rationale: In his final game for Bendigo, Dow played with a hurt shoulder but pushed himself into contention for the No.1 overall selection with 35 disposals, seven inside-50s, six clearances and two goals. With his explosive pace and contested ball-winning, Dow may develop into the best midfielder in this year's draft.
Strengths:
First possession winner at stoppages
Contested ball winner
Wins clearances
Burst out of stoppages at speed
Acceleration
Desperation
Tackling
Clean skills
Lowers eyes
Composure in traffic
Evasiveness
Scoreboard impact
Weaknesses:
At stoppages can be prone to bombing long for territory rather than taking his time to consider best options.

3. Adam Cerra (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfielder
Height, weight: 186cm, 85kg
Recruited from: Eastern Ranges
Projected draft range: top five
Similar to: Trent Cotchin
August Ranking: 3
Rationale: Has missed a lot of football in 2017 with a meniscus injury in his knee and shoulder surgery more recently which ended his season. But he wins clearances, first possession at stoppages and displays class and clean ball use. One of this year's best midfielders.
Strengths:
Contested-ball winning
Wins first possession at stoppages
Stoppage work
Wins clearances
Stands up through tackles
Strong build
Strong mark overhead
One-on-one marking
Clean at ground level
Clean ball user on both sides of the body
Decision-making
Vision
Composure under pressure
Production
Evasiveness
Endurance
Work rate
Best suited through midfield but can also be utilised down back or up forward
Weaknesses:
Acceleration

4. Luke Davies-Uniacke (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfield/general forward
Height, weight: 187cm, 85kg
Recruited from: Dandenong Stingrays
Projected draft range: top five
Similar to: Ollie Wines
August Ranking: 4
Rationale: Lack of improvement since the early stages of the season sees Davies-Uniacke placed behind Rayner, Dow and Cerra.
Strengths:
Stoppage work
Contested ball-winning
Reading of ruck taps
Gets to best spots at stoppages
Clearance winner
Explosive 10m burst of speed to break away from contest
Clean at ground level
Vision
Decision-making
Quick hands in close
Scoreboard impact
Overhead marking
Strength
Strength through core and hips to keep his feet in the contest and stands up through tackles
Midfielder with versatility to play forward or back
Has played his best football against more mature bodies
Weaknesses:
Placement of kicks mildly inconsistent
Can have quiet games or quiet patches in games

5. Noah Balta (VIC)

Best position: Key forward/key defence
Height, weight: 194cm, 92kg
Recruited from: Calder Cannons
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Jarrad Waite
August Ranking: 7
Rationale: Speculative call, but Balta has the attributes and on-field impact to be the best key position player in this draft. His explosive pace, extremely long kick and mix of cleanness at ground level and contested marking could see Balta develop into anything.
Strengths:
Versatility to impact games in any of the 18 field positions
Freakishly clean and one touch at ground level
Explosive, breakaway pace
Breaks the lines
Burst athlete who can get several touches in chains forward
Agility
Vertical leap
Strength
Contested marking
Gets front position in marking contests
Reads the drop of the ball
Difficult to contain one the lead or leaping up at the football
Takes marks at full stretch
Stands up through tackles
Tackling
Scoreboard impact
Weaknesses:
Unclear best position
Inconsistent performances
Football smarts

6. Darcy Fogarty (SA)

Best position: Utility
Height, weight: 192cm, 88kg
Recruited from: Glenelg
Projected draft range: top 10
Similar to: Jake Stringer
August Ranking: 10
Rationale: : Out for the season with a small meniscus tear he carried through the Under-18 Championships. Struggled during the Championships due to the tear and needs to be given the benefit of the doubt based on attributes demonstrated and performances from 2016.
Strengths:
Strength
Contested-ball winning
Clearance winner
Contested marking
Body-on-body strength
Fend offs
Stands up through tackles
Courage
Competitiveness
Versatility to play anywhere other than ruck
Scoreboard impact
Clean ball user by hand and foot
Vision
Decision making
High leap
Evasion
Agility
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Unclear best position
Inconsistent 2017 performances and production
Poor Under-18 Championships

7. Jarrod Brander (VIC)
Best position:
Key forward/key defence
Height, weight: 195cm, 83kg
Recruited from: Bendigo Pioneers
Projected draft range: top 10
Similar to: Ben Reid
August Ranking: 5
Rationale: Possesses attributes to suggest he could develop at either end of the field. Would be higher if improvement from 2016 and consistency was better.
Strengths:
Clean at ground level
Agility
Pace
Endurance
Work rate
Marking threat on the lead
Reads drop of the ball early
Contested marking
Intercept marking
Clean field kick
Vision to spot damaging targets up the field
Decision making with ball in hand
Stands up through tackles
Versatility to play key forward or key defence
Weaknesses:
Sometimes drops marks he would be expected to take
Conversion in front of goal
Can struggle down back to contain key forwards
Inconsistent from game to game
Improvement not as strong as expected given his standard of play in 2016

8. Andrew Brayshaw (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfield
Height, weight: 183cm, 80kg
Recruited from: Sandringham Dragons
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Angus Brayshaw
August Ranking: 18
Rationale: Consistently outstanding numbers and well-rounded game sees Brayshaw rise to a top 10 position.
Strengths:
Contested ball winning
Tackling
Stoppage work
Clean at ground level
Footy smarts
Kicking
Vision
Endurance
Evasiveness
Production
Consistency
Contributes effectively both at stoppages and in general play
Weaknesses:
No clear second position

9. Connor Ballenden (QLD - Brisbane Academy)

Best position: Key defence
Height, weight: 199cm, 95kg
Recruited from: University of Queensland
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Jeremy McGovern
August Ranking: 6
Rationale: Drops slightly as others rise. Has shown early promise in NEAFL and has not looked out of his depth.
Strengths:
Intercept marking
Reading of the flight
Size and strength
Contested marking
Kicking
Vision
Decision-making
Physical style of play
Scoreboard impact
Forceful tackler
Versatility to play key defence, ruck or key forward
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Work rate
Athleticism
Agility
Acceleration
Inconsistent performances

10. Brayden Crossley (QLD - Gold Coast Academy)

Best position: Ruck
Height, weight: 198cm, 105kg
Recruited from: Labrador Tigers
Projected draft range: second to third round
Similar to: Shane Mumford
August Ranking: 11
Rationale: Strength in the ruck combined with his rare followup work by position gives Crossley the scope to be the best ruckman in this draft. Strength of NEAFL play sees Crossley's stocks continue to rise.
Strengths:
Recovery after ruck contests rare
Followup work with ground-ball winning and tackling exceptional
Freakish cleanness at ground level for someone his height/size
Roves off a contest like a small
Physical impact around the ball
Strength
Bodywork in the contest
Agility
Can push forward and hit the scoreboard or provide a presence
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Leap
Acceleration

11. Jack Higgins (VIC)

Best position: General forward/outside midfield
Height, weight: 178cm, 76kg
Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Toby Greene
August Ranking: 14
Rationale: Looking ultra-impressive as both a forward and midfielder. One of this year's most ready-to-go and complete performers.
Strengths:
One touch at ground level
Natural crumbing forward
Kicking skills on both sides of the body
Goal sense
Lowers his eyes and hits forward 50m targets
Plays taller than his height with his overhead marking
Capable one-on-one mark
Tackling pressure
Plays well as forward or midfielder
Production
Leap
Agility
Endurance
Work rate
Work ethic
Consistent performer
Weaknesses:
Impact per possession low as midfielder

12. Aaron Naughton (WA)
Best position:
Key defence
Height, weight: 194cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Peel Thunder
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Alex Rance
August Ranking: 8
Rationale: Transition to WAFL League football has been seamless. Drops slightly as others rise.
Strengths:
Intercept marking
Strong hands overhead
Reading the flight of the ball early
Football smarts
Contested marking
One-on-one marking
Keeps his feet in the contest
Agility
Acceleration
WAFL League performances
Weaknesses:
Kicking while reliable enough is of a high, loopy style which is too easily intercepted

13. Callum Coleman-Jones (SA)

Best position: Ruck/key forward
Height, weight: 199cm, 98kg
Recruited from: Sturt
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Toby Nankervis
August Ranking: 12
Rationale: Big body who can take a mark, find a lot of the ball around the ground and has the performances on the board both through the ruck and up forward. Appears an ideal relieving ruckman. Out for the season with knee surgery to solve a patella issue, but has done more than enough.
Strengths:
Contested marking
Strong hands overhead
Intercept marking
Reading of the ball in flight
Size
Strength
Physicality
Clean at ground level
Disposal numbers per game through the ruck
Scoreboard impact
Taps to advantage
Mobility
Production
Prolific both as a key forward and ruckman
Very advanced game for age
Weaknesses:
Poor leap
Lacks explosiveness
Awkward kicking style

14. Nicholas Coffield (VIC)

Best position: General defence/inside midfield
Height, weight: 190cm, 83kg
Recruited from: Northern Knights
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: James Kelly
July Ranking: 16
Rationale: One of the few players this year with genuine class and composure with ball in hand. At his height and with his mix of attributes, has the scope to develop into a midfielder with time. Just needs to start winning more of the ball in the contest and develop greater consistency from game to game.
Strengths:
Evasiveness
Sidestepping and composure in traffic
Sound decision maker in traffic
Classy ball user and clean kick over a variety of distances
Takes on players with his run
Agility
Clean at ground level
Clean, quick hands in close
Intercept marking
Reading of the ball in flight
Production
Weaknesses:
Having played mostly back, he remains somewhat unproven as a midfielder other than for short periods
Contested ball winning
Stoppage work
Inconsistent production from game to game.

15. Jaidyn Stephenson (VIC)
Best position: Outside midfield
Height, weight: 189cm, 76kg
Recruited from: Eastern Ranges
Projected draft range: top 10
Similar to: Isaac Smith
July Ranking: 17
Rationale: Has demonstrated the capability to play forward, wing or midfield. Strong month of football sees Stephenson rise slightly.
Strengths:
High leap
Aerial marking threat
Clean at ground level
Takes on the game with his run and is a genuine line breaker
Acceleration
Agility
Tackling pressure
Provides second and third efforts
Reading of ruck taps
Composed with ball in hand
Vision
Improving contested ball-winner
Versatility to play wing, forward or on the ball for patches as needed
Big game player
Weaknesses:
Hands overhead inconsistent
Strength
Consistency from game to game
Kicking mildly inconsistency

16. James Worpel (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfield
Height, weight: 185cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Geelong Falcons
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Josh P. Kennedy
August Ranking: 15
Rationale: Dominant stoppage specialist possessing size and a ready-to-go game.
Strengths:
Stoppage specialist
Powerful tackler
First possession winner
Contested ball-winning
Clearance winner
Strong build
Strength through the hips allows Worpel to stand up when tackled and deliver a clean handball to a target without going to ground
Powerful fend offs
Courageous
Can hit the ball at speed and win it at full pace
Consistent performer
Acceleration
Agility
Leadership
Able to play forward and hit the scoreboard
Weaknesses:
Unreliable kick

17. Hunter Clark (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfielder/outside midfielder
Height, weight: 186cm, 79kg
Recruited from: Dandenong Stingrays
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Taylor Adams
August Ranking: Not ranked
Rationale: Form following the Under-18 Championships has pushed Clark into first round contention. Has transformed his game from outside runner to genuine inside ball winner.
Strengths:
First possession winner at stoppages
Contested ball winner
Clean at ground level
Clean hands in close
Tackling
Runs in support
Work rate
Endurance
Outside run and carry
Agility
Evasiveness
Precise, dual-sided kick with time and space
Capability to midfield, back or forward
Capable crumber off packs and inside 50m
Weaknesses:
Often turns over the ball by foot when pressured
Hurt factor with ball in hand

18. Harrison Petty (VIC)

Best position: Key defender
Height, weight: 194cm, 81kg
Recruited from: Norwood
Projected draft range: second to third round
Similar to: Robbie Tarrant
August Ranking: Not ranked
Rationale: Named South Australia's Under-18 MVP during the Under-18 Championships. Petty continues to improve with 26 disposals and 15 marks in the SANFL Reserves against Sturt. He possesses all the attributes as a key defender to develop.
Strengths:
Intercept marking
Reads the flight of the ball early
One-on-one marking
Body work one-on-one
Takes marks at highest point
Clean at ground level
Effective ball user
Composure with ball in hand
Capable athlete
Rate of improvement
Strong performances from limited exposure
Weaknesses:
Unclear versatility

19. Oscar Clavarino (VIC)

Best position: Key defender
Height, weight: 194cm, 80kg
Recruited from: Dandenong Stingrays
Projected draft range: second to third round
Similar to: Phil Davis
August Ranking: 9
Rationale: Drops slightly due to quieter-than-expected TAC Cup return and other key defenders rising. Ability to stop opponents, intercept and use the ball by foot make Clavarino an attractive and developable key defender.
Strengths:
Strength
Body-work one-on-one
Intercept marking
One-on-one marking
Reading the flight of the ball early
Keeps his feet in the contest Shuts down opponent's influence
Reliable kick to target
Weaknesses:
Pace
Athleticism
Agility
Key defender only

20. Sam Taylor (WA)

Best position: Key defender
Height, weight: 196cm, 85kg
Recruited from: Swan Districts
Projected draft range: second to third round
Similar to: Adam Tomlinson
August Ranking: Not ranked
Rationale: Playing WAFL League football and holding his own is a significant accomplishment for the Under-18 All-Australian. A recent 27-disposal, eight mark, best on ground performance in Round 23 sees Taylor break his way into the top 20.
Strengths:
Clean hands at ground level
Involved in general play
Intercept marking
Reading of the flight
Capable both as a rebounder and stopper
Has performances on the board against WAFL League competition
Weaknesses:
Inconsistent kick
Key defender only